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tv   U.S. Senate Debates FDA Commissioner Nomination  CSPAN  May 9, 2017 2:14pm-6:21pm EDT

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>> sunday on q&a, the comparisons between presidents donald trump and andrew jackson. our guest on his book andrew jackson, seven or. >> i don't think he represents the positive values that jackson represented purity certainly represent some of the negative values that jackson represented, but i think i would tell president trump that if he wants to be like andrew jackson has to put nation in front of his own personhood come has to put nation in front of his own family, has put nation in front of his own interests because that's what jackson did for most of his presidency. >> sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> and we're just a moment or two away from the senate floor. today senators considering the nomination of scott gottlieb to be commissioner of the fda.
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the senate advanced the nomination yesterday in a procedural vote and they will expect a final confirmation vote today but we're not quite sure what time it is scheduled. we will watch and find out. a couple of other things going on this afternoon. a senate hearing on water infrastructure projects, water resources impact the local state and national economies pick that hearing over on the senate and departmental and public works committee and we have live coverage starting in about 15 minutes on c-span. live now to the senate floor a senator: for the well-being, safety and security of nevadans, namely yucca mountain. i have said it before and i will say it again, yucca mountain is dead. let me repeat myself.
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yucca mountain is dead. i will continue to come to the floor until we move past this project. last week i had the opportunity to testify before the house energy environmental committee regarding draft legislation to effectively restart the licensing process for yucca mountain. and while i appreciate the opportunity to testify in order to assure that nevadans voices are heard i'm concerned we're using valuable time and taxpayer resources to hold a hearing on a closed issue. mr. heller: let me say this one more time, mr. president. yucca mountain is dead. instead of focusing our efforts on reviving failed proposals of the past, i'll continue to encourage my colleagues and the administration to focus on policies of the future. failure to do so will have real economic environmental and national security implications for all nevadans. this afternoon i want to focus on the economic impact that resuming
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licensing activities for yucca mountain as a nuclear waste repository will have on my home state. as many of you know, yucca mountain is located just 90 miles from the world's premier tourist convention and entertainment designation in las vegas, nevada. last year las vegas welcomed nearly 43 million visitors. over the past decade the greater las vegas area has been one of the fastest-growing in the u.s. with a population that now exceeds 2.1 million people, according to an estimate from the u.s. census bureau. any issue with the transportation of nuclear waste to the site or issues with storage there would bring devastating consequences to the local, state, and national economies. mr. president, it begs the question, would you want to come to las vegas knowing that high-level nuclear waste is being transported very likely through the heart of the strip?
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let me outline for you the vitally important role tourism plays for the greater las vegas area. this industry accounts to close to 44% of the local workforce providing close to $17 billion in local wages. moreover, tourism is an estimated $60 billion in local impact. without tourism, every household in southern nevada would pay close to $3,000 more in taxes. it's a significant amount of money. to individuals and families working to make ends meet. and people visit not only as tourists, but as business professionals, for conferences, for meetings and trade shows, generating another $12 billion in local economic impact. las vegas has three of the ten largest convention centers in north america and has been the number-one trade show designation for 23 consecutive years. this economic driver within the state is a
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critical component of another related industry that is -- which is vitally important to the state of nevada, namely, the gaming industry. this industry in nevada alone supports over 430,000 jobs. it pays more than $18 billion in wages and generates close to $18 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues. mr. president, the reason i draw your attention and our colleagues' attention to these numbers is for the fact that yucca mountain will have very real negative economic consequences for nevadans. i'm proud to come to the floor today to stand with many concerned citizens, many small business operators and the casino operators in opposition to any attempt to restart the repository licensing process. i'll continue to work tirelessly to ensure that radioactive waste is never stored anywhere near the world's entertainment capital,
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also known as las vegas. rather, i encourage my colleagues to partner with me on identifying viable alternatives for the long-term storage of nuclear waste in areas that are willing to house it. i come to the table with a solution to our nation's nuclear waste program and am proud to have introduced bipartisan legislation on this issue. my legislation will allow the construction of a nuclear waste repository only if the secretary of energy has secured written consent from the governor of the host state affected units of the local government and affected indian tribes. this is consistent with the deciding initiative for waste storage initiated by the department of energy in the late 2015. this open process ensures that a state has a meaningful voice in the process and that no state will be forced to accept nuclear waste against its own will.
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identifying communities that are willing to host the long-term repositories rather than forcing it upon the state that have outright opposed such a site for decades -- let me repeat, for decades -- is the only viable solution to our nation's nuclear waste problem. failure to do so will just result in decades more of litigation, wasting more taxpayer dollars without solving the problem at hand. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we
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are. mr. cassidy: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cassidy: mr. president, the topic before us is obviously the repeal and replacement of the affordable care act. that's what i rise to speak of today. in part i will speak as a senator, in part i will speak as a doctor, as i am a physician. i worked in a hospital. my wife's is a physician. i worked in a hospital for the uninsured for many years. first let's just say the state of play. it is so interesting regarding president obama's health care law, the affordable care act, obamacare. i had two different communications yesterday. one from a sister-in-law in san francisco, and i think her husband voted for bernie there. but she says this is incredible. i am paying -- speaking of herself, i am paying $20,000 a year in premiums and each of my family members have a $6,000 deductible. now, they have to pay san francisco prices for everything. they make good money but not exorbitant money. they are paying $20,000 a year
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for a premium for a young couple in good health with a family deductible of probably $13,000. so the next communication in a phone call, a consultant here in washington, d.c., who does health care. he knows his stuff. and at some point he breaks out of his sort of professional kind of this is the way i talk into saying you ought to see my insurance. i'm paying $24,000 a year for premiums, and i have a $13,000 family deductible. if i get or my family gets in an accident, it will be $37,000 my family puts out before we see any benefit from our insurance. i reminded him he would have preventative services such as a colonoscopy, but that was just cold comfort for him. the reality is middle-class america can no longer afford the ironically now named affordable care act. so where does that leave us? president trump ran and president trump, i like to say because i think he would say it, established a contract with the
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american voter. president trump said that he wanted to continue the number of folks that were covered under the affordable care act -- under obamacare. he wanted to take care of those with preexisting conditions. he wanted to eliminate mandates because just americans hate to be told what to do by the federal government. and lastly, he wanted to lower costs. now, i think the average voter took lower costs to mean lower premiums, not a better c.b.o. score. and lower premiums are really what those two communications are about. the second thing i will note is he was very passionate about a particular preexisting condition that the president -- that the presiding officer here in the senate cares about, which is opioid addiction. and he would go to counties where there was a high incidence of opioid addiction and speak to how he wished to address their needs. so i think president trump's proposals, his contract with the voter, really give us hope. now, the question is how do we achieve that? well, first we have to
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acknowledge a couple of things. rick lowry is a conservative author for "the national review." he wrote a column, basically coverage is important. we cannot deny, no one can deny it is important to have coverage. and if we speak of as you did at lunch, mr. presiding officer, about the family whose son is addicted to narcotics and the fact that now he has coverage and he is able to get off of the opioids instead of either dying, living in a gutter or being incarcerate incarcerated is a sign of hope. and when president trump spoke of the forgotten man or forgotten woman, in my mind, i think in his mind he was referring to someone such as that. and so we have to acknowledge as rich lowry did that coverage is important. my own experience as a physician supports that, but i'm actually
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going to quote somebody from my wife's experience. she is a retired breast cancer surgeon. she told me once of a patient who lived in a nice section of my hometown, baton rouge, had a nice car and children in parochial school, paying tuition, but her husband had died and he always managed the kind of family affairs, and he died and she ended up uninsured. now, she had a nice car and a nice home, kids in parochial school, but she didn't have insurance. and going back to coverage being important, she began to develop a breast cancer, something that was described in medicine as fungating, which means the cancer begins to eat through the skin on the chest. she didn't know where to go because she did not have coverage. and when the breast cancer was actually coming out of her skin is when she came to see my wife. my wife operated on her for free, the hospital wrote off the cost, but that's not the end of it. because then she needed radiation therapy, she needed breast reconstruction, she
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needed chemotherapy. her only hope for survival is if she had this coverage. so we can acknowledge two things important but also that premiums under the affordable care act have become unaffordable. i will go back to what president trump said. president trump said he wants everyone to be covered, caring for those with preexisting conditions without mandates and lower premiums, and that is something whether republican or democrat or independent we should be able to get behind. how do we have a path forward? some folks say president trump's promise cannot be kept. there was a good article recently by jim cappretta, again a conservative economist. mr. cappretta says basically we can achieve these goals. you automatically enroll folks from the insurance programs. if you're a young person, you get a credit that would be sufficient to pay for your annual premium. you don't have to take it, but if you do take it, you are automatically enrolled in insurance. by automatically enrolling these young people, we expand the risk
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pool, which is to say that we now have a lot of healthy young folks, most of whom will not get sick, but the fact that they are in the insurance pool mean that those who are older and sicker will have lower premiums because the cost of their care is spread out over the many. that's a good thing. that would both increase coverage and it would lower premiums without mandates taking care of those with preexisting conditions. again, i think president -- or candidate trump's genius was to recognize that the only way you get to lower premiums is if you expand coverage. and again, the only way to care for those with preexisting conditions is if you expand coverage. i'm pleased to say that we have a proposal out there. it's called the patient freedom act, which i cosponsored. i have introduced with susan collins and four other of our republican senators have cosponsored. and the six of us propose
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this -- that every state be given the right to choose their path forward. if you're a blue state, you can continue with the status quo. you just have to reimpose penalties and mandates. if you're a red state, you can go in a different direction. for folks in your state, get a tax credit sufficient against the premium. not everyone would be eligible. particularly lower income folks. and with this credit, it with only be used for health insurance or health care. if you do nothing, you would end up with a health savings account prefunded. you have first dollar coverage if you have to take your daughter to the urgent care center. so instead of an obamacare $6,000 deductible, when your daughter has her earache, you have first dollar coverage to pay that $150 to get your child seen and to buy the antibiotics. if the mother instead wish to pool their families' health savings accounts together, their tax credits together, she could buy a richer family policy or she could assign it to her employer as the employee's
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contribution on employer-sponsored insurance. the patient has the power. i should say in my medical practice, i have found that if the patient has the power, the system lines up to serve the patient. and by the way, just a rule of thumb, if you ever go to a hospital that delivers babies and you walk in, it is clear who has the power. the walls are painted mauve or powder blue or pink. there is a concierge to park your car because women don't like to walk in parking lots at night. and if you're pregnant, you really don't want to walk at all, so someone parks your car for you. there is a coffee shop as you walk in and a floral shop. it's all a therapeutic experience that addresses not just the physical need but the emotional and psychological need, and that is because that system is lining up to serve her, that patient. the patient freedom act incorporates that. now, by the way, we also have a third option. if a state doesn't want anything
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to do with this, the state can say take a hike, we don't want you, but generally states have three options, and that recognizes a conservative principle that states should have the right to do what they want to do and which works best for the state. but we to require that the patient have the power. now, mr. president, i'll be frank, i'm not sure that we're going to pass meaningful reform that is as good as it could be with only the republican side of the senate and so aside from asking my senators to join with me and to -- my republican senators to promote something which fulfills president trump's pledge, i ask my democratic completion to look beyond -- democrats to look beyond partisan. wouldn't it be good if president trump in his contract to the
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voters said, eliminate mandates and lower premiums which is a problem for so many americans while covering those and caring for these with preexisting conditions. i ask my colleagues to move beyond bipartisanship into a spirit of cooperation that puts pay -- puts patient before party. we don't need a red plan or a blue plan, a democratic plan or republican plan, we need an american plan. there is another way to lower premiums and that is to give lousy coverage. i coined the phrase and i didn't realize it would be recognized but we should have the jimmy kim mel test. mr. kimmel after his child was born, instead of it being a
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celebration, it quickly became the child was blue, would die, and the medical staff comes in and recognized that the child has a rare cardiac condition that if not operated on would be fatal. the child was transferred and had an operation and in his first week of life is apparently doing well. i raise that because, again, you can lower -- you can lower premiums by having lousy coverage. but whatever we doll to pass premiums it should pass the jimmy kimmel, which whoever you love has adequate coverage so they have coverage whenever they need it. that way we can be fiscally responsible so we can help the family who is paying $20,000 or $40,000 for insurance and at the same time fulfill president trump's contract with the voter, which is to care for those with
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preexisting conditions to have coverage and eliminate mandates. mr. president, thank you for this opportunity to address the chamber and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. wyden: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, after some chaotic weeks of hush-hush deliberating, a lot of arm twisting and more than a few obvious buyoffs, the house has handed the senate a health care bill that will plunge tens of millions of americans into suffering. with it the debate now comes to this side of the capitol and my republican colleagues seem to be competing to find out who can put the most distance between themselves and the house bill. the message is they are starting from scratch with a bipartisan
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working group and a new bill under construction, but i want to make sure everybody's realistic about where this debate stands. there is not a shred of actual hard evidence that the senate republican caucus is objecting to nearly a $ -- nearly a trillion dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy and special interests by cutting more than $800 billion out of medicaid. the dates, the numbers, and the waivers might look a little different when the senate republicans write a bill, but the underlying framework will be the same. this process, in short, is leading america back to the days when health care worked only for the healthy and wealthy and it's clear when you look at the particulars that the bill passed by the other body doesn't care
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whether you're young or old, it poses a threat of pain across all generations. so this afternoon as i begin what will be a series of discussions here on the floor in the days ahead to discuss these issues, i want to talk about what we are dealing with now. under the house bill the youngster who needs special education services could see that set of opportunities disappear with cuts to medicaid, a key source of funding for special ed school programs or the tax breaks in this bill for the wealthy worth depriving kids for the opportunity they need to get ahead in life? under this bill, the young adult, 18 or 20, who has been through a cancer scare could ware that preexisting condition
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like a scarlet letter. they could face discrimination by insurance companies for life if their coverage ever lapseses for more -- lapses for more than a few weeks. are the tax breaks worth exposing americans to this danger? the 45-year-old who thought she was home free with an employer-sponsored plan that avoids the worst company abuses, they could face a lifetime limit on certain health coverage. they'd be at risk for personal bankruptcy if they suffered the wrong kind of injury or come down with the wrong kind of illness. are the tax breaks in this bill worth putting insurance companies back in the driver's seat? the 60-year-old still years from retirement would get clobbered by what i call the age tax -- charged up to fivele times as
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much -- five times as much as a young person for insurance coverage. are the tax breaks in this bill worth reviving insurance company abuses like this? not even the most vulnerable seniors are spared under this bill. medicaid helps cover the tab for nearly two out of three seniors in nursing homes. they are people who have done everything right. they've worked hard, scrimped, saved, raised their kids and put them through schools. you see them in ohio communities, you see them in oregon communities, but, colleagues, growing older in america is not cheap. these are people who spend down their savings and that's when medicaid steps in. but if medicaid funding is slashed, the nursing home is slashed and critical services like home base care will be in danger. every one of us wants their loved ones to be cared for, but the fact is most families are
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already walking an economic tightrope in this country balancing their mortgage and gas bills and struggling to save for college and retirement. where would working mothers and fathers today possibly find the money to pay for nursing home care for their elderly parents, perhaps 90 -- $90,000 or more? are the tax breaks in this bill worth putting seniors in nursing homes at risk. i spent this week holding town hall meetings in oregon, holding health care round tables at home in oregon, and it would be hard to overstate the fear, the tears that i heard in conversations about this legislation. oregonians recognize that in many ways this proposal is a return to an era when insurance companies have more power and the typical american has less,
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when women were penalized simply because of their gender, when a preexisting condition for many was a death sentence, when insurance companies deciding what preexisting conditions they cover constituted a real death panel. even worse, the system would invite young and healthy people not to buy insurance unless they needed it at that particular moment which would drive up costs for everybody else. bottom line, you cannot revive a failed abusive health insurance system and expect americans to be very pleased, to be very excited about it, especially when it's part of a scheme to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. that's what my republican colleagues are attempting. i understand why they're doing it because what they want to do is in effect get these tax
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breaks for the wealthy in a health bill so they can have it teed up to get more tax breaks for the wealthy in a tax bill. that's what this is really all about. even casual watchers of the debate understand that this bill, the tax cuts in particular, are stacked in favor of the fortunate few. everybody in america, every time you get a paycheck in north dakota, you get a paycheck in oregon, you get a paycheck anywhere in america, a little bit of medicare is taken out of that paycheck. working people can see it. it's right there on their paycheck, a little bit taken out. the only people who get a break on that contribution under this bill are at the very top of the income scale. furthermore, the tax break on investment income will be swallowed up by the wealthy
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almost in its entirety. people with incomes over $1 million will get an average break of more than $50,000, almost as much as a typical family turns in an entire year. most of that tax break goes not just to the millionaires but those at the upper most slice of the income scale. they're the fortunate individuals who make money from wealth, not from wages like most americans. the 120,000 wealthiest families in the united states, those that bring in around $2 million a year mostly from capital gains interest and dividends would get an average tax handout under the house bill of $207,000 according to the tax policy center, a well respected group that analyzes these matters. mr. president, i can tell you even conservative health policy experts are looking at this bill
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scratching their head trying to determine how this constitutes an improvement over the system that's on the books today. aside from the wealthy individuals and corporations lining up for these tax handouts, it's hard to see who's helped by this approach that republicans have taken. and it's a worrying sign for anybody who believes in bipartisanship to see that republicans in this body have decided they don't want any democratic input. i've been involved, mr. president, in writing bipartisan health bills in the past, and there are more than a few cosponsors of those bills in the republican conference today. a number of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have joined me in efforts, for example, to have loophole free, air tight protection against discrimination, against those with a preexisting condition. so it's important to understand
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that a lot of us on this side of the aisle and my colleague, the president of the senate, knows it from our work on infrastructure, very much would like to work with colleagues on the other side on bipartisan issues. it can be done. and in fact just today under the leadership of senator schumer, a whole caucus said drop reconciliation. we said to the republicans, so we can all come together and get serious about working in a bipartisan way on an issue that ought to be tackled in a bipartisan way for the american people and that i have a long history in particular of wanting to be part of. so for the next several weeks, i'll be here on the floor drawing on our past experiences and underlining why the partisan approach under way right now is wrong. people ought to know that trumpcare is a betrayal of the promises they've heard time and time again. they heard it through hundreds of tv commercials all through the election period, and what
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they are seeing now is a betrayal of those promises they watched on campaign advertisements over the last year. people ought to know that this is not a real effort at fixing our health care system. this is a masquerade. it is a masquerade to try to pretend that what's going on is about health care when it really is making sure that you can cut taxes for the most fortunate while benefits for the middle class, health care benefits are slashed. trumpcare is the opposite of good health policy. there's no grassroots campaign i know of clamoring for the congress to pass another round of the same old handouts to special interests, donors, and powerful individuals. the american people are counting on the congress to improve the health system and make their care more affordable. the congress ought to be working together on injecting more competition in the insurance
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markets and reducing out-of-pocket costs for families. we ought to be working especially on bringing prescription drug prices down, and you can't really in my view build a modern health system unless you address the challenges posed by chronic conditions, like diabetes, cancer, and alzheimer's. so democrats, we want it understood, we want to work in a bipartisan way to improve the affordable care act. that is the heart of the letter that all senate democrats signed today. senator schumer got us all. we all went together making it clear that we'd like to see republicans drop reconciliation, come together so we can find common ground, that that would be in the country's interest rather than using this go it alone process that's called reconciliation but specifically rejects bipartisanship. i'm going to be down on the
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floor, mr. president, a lot over the next several weeks. i promised my constituents night and day over the course of last weekend and people kept saying night and day, day and night because the country feels that strongly about this. and i and others are going to hold our colleagues on the other side of the aisle accountable because we all ought to agree that this country cannot go back to the days when health care was for the healthy and the wealthy. those preexisting conditions could be a death sentence, and that is because if you were healthy, you had no problem. if you were wealthy, you could write out the checks. but if you had a preexisting condition, you were in very, very serious straits and people
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told us about losing their homes, talked about losing everything they had. we're not going back in america to the days when health care was for the healthy and wealthy. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i yield the floor.
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port mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise today to continue a discussion we've had on this floor over the last year or so on this issue of opioids. that would be addiction to heroin, prescription drugs, and now this new form of synthetic heroin that's coming into our communities called fentanyl or carfentanil. sadly, i must tell you that things are not getting better. in fact, we see more and more evidence in the states that we represent and our communities of not just addiction but overdoses and deaths. fentanyl in particular is more deadly than heroin, 30 to 50 more times powerful and is resulting in not just more overdoses but more deaths per overdose. this has become a crisis to the point that it's the number one cause of death in my home state of ohio and around the country surpassing car accidents. this is the 35th time i've
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come to the floor in the last year to talk about this issue and what we ought to do. we've made progress. in the last year alone we passed legislation including the comprehensive addiction and recovery act to help with prevention treatment, recovery, help our law enforcement and other first responders with narcan to be able to reduce the number of deaths, this miracle drug that changes the overdoses and reverses the overdoses to be able to save lives. we've also passed the cures legislation which sends money straight back to the states that will help to provide the treatment that is so badly needed. probably eight out of ten people who are addicted are not receiving treatment and sadly there's a revolving door where people are coming under the group of this addiction, committing crimes, going to prison, getting out, getting back into the addiction again and back into the criminal justice system once again. so this legislation that we have passed is now starting to be implemented. it takes a little while for things to get moving around here and i'm happy to say that the states have now received some of this funding, that some of the programs, about half of them in the comprehensive addiction
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recovery act is now -- are now implemented. i urge the administration to implement the other half of the programs and i've done that on the floor every time i've come to the floor over the last few months. but unfortunately, mr. president, i also have to come to the floor today to talk about something that is going to make it harder to address this issue should it become reality. as some of you may have known, recently it was report thad there was a document from the white house office of management and budget saying the white house is considering cutting funding dramatically for the office of national drug control policy, the ondcp. this is the office that coordinates the drug issue for the white house, the administration. the proposal that was leaked to the media said that it would be a cut from $388 million a year to $24 million a year. that's a cut of 95%. what does that mean? it means the staff would be obviously reduced dramatically.
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they've got 33 people would lose their jobs who are out there every day on the front lines trying to use the relatively small number of people to expand this effort all over the country. it would eliminate a lot of grant programs. office administrators including what is called the high intensity drug trafficking programs program and a pam called the drug free -- a program called the drug free communities support program. i want to touch on those two programs to make the point as to how important they are hoping the administration is hearing if us and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will help us to ensure that this proposal does not become reality, that we don't in fact end up at a time when we have an unprecedented drug crisis in this crisis, the worst drug epidemic that we have had in our lifetimes, that at that time we would be pulling back on these important programs. why does this matter? well, again, having a drug czar which is what the director of the national drug control policy is called is really important to coordinate the efforts. in fact, it's cost effective to
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have a drug czar rather than having all different agencies and departments sort of competing and sometimes in duplication with each other, to have one person in the white house in charge talking about the importance -- president ronald reagan and first lady nancy reagan established the drug czar. the reason they did it is they wanted to be sure that america and the white house was speaking with one voice on this issue. and i've known every drug czar since then. i've known every one of them over the last -- gosh, what would that be? about 30 years. and, you know, it's a job that i think is incredibly important to fill with the right person to get out there and deliver this message that it is important that we work together on prevention and education to try to keep people out of drugs all together and then should people become addicted, how do we maximize the chances of their success by getting them into treatment and recovery. the program that i mentioned a minute ago, the high intensity drug trafficking area is one that pretty much every senator knows about. why? because in pockets of every
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state there are areas where you have a particular problem with drugs. this program, the high intensity drug trafficking program, does something unique. it says, okay, we're going to put federal law enforcement together with state law enforcement and local law enforcement to really intensely focus on this issue at the local level. and that, as you know, is necessary because so much of this is interstate, even international, and by having this intense focus there's been enormous success in my state and states around the country. under the program you have to have one full-time law enforcement officer at the federal level, state level, and the local level. typically you have a sheriff or police chief who runs this locally but really is able to maximize what he or she is able to do because you have this involvement from the state highway patrol, you have this involvement from the f.b.i., you have this coordination. ohio hidta has removed $90
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million of illicit drugs from our streets. it's apprehended fujitives in drug trafficking operations. it makes our communities safer and going to save a lot of lives. this is one that's really working. if you ask your law enforcement locally about it, they will tell you that if they don't have a hidta grant, they wish they did. if you can show that you can use the money effectively and have a really serious drug problem in our asian having that hidta program is really important. the second program supports community antidrug coalitions all around the country. often when people ask me about, what's the solution to this problem, why are we in the situation we're in, i turn to prevention and education because you think about it, once you get into the funnel of addiction, it is very difficult. wouldn't it be better if we had better programs out there and frankly we did back in the 1980's and 1990's to tell young
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people and to tell others why it is such a mistake to get into this drug issue, why they must do everything they can to avoid, in the case of heroin and prescription drugs and other opioids, of taking these painkillers to the point that you become addicted, which is so often where the heroin addiction and the overdoses start. four out of five heroin addicts in the country started with prescription drugs, they say. and getting that information out there, that awareness is incrediblably important. that's what this drug-free communities program is about. i got involved in this program early on through a personal experience. i was first-year member of the house of representatives, back 23 years ago, and a woman came to see me whose son had died of an overdose. and she came to see me because she wanted to talk about her experience and what we were going to do about it. at the time bill clinton was president, and i went to an
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event where both president clinton and i were given an i.d. brace let by a young man named jeffrey gardner. i put the i.d. brace let on and then prepared for this meeting with this mother who was obviously very upset and was there with her younger son. she came to my office and i was prepared for t my staff had done all the research and we knew there was about $15 billion a year being spent on drug interdiction, interdict drugs coming from other countries, incarcerations and prosecutions, eradication of drugs overseas where key cane was being -- where cocaine was being grown. i told her this was what's being done with your daughters. she looked at me, how is that helping me? i went to my church, i went to my school to get them to help,
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to mobilize people, get the word out, and they were both in denial. they said, this doesn't happen here. she said, i went to my neighbors and tried to get a community meeting together and people didn't show up. she said, how does interdicting drugs help me? how does the work on eradication overseas help me? i did more research and looked into it further and talked to people around the country who are experts 0en this and found out -- are experts on this and found out there was this community network, it really made a difference to reduce drug abuse. so we started this program, and this program, the drug inform free communities act, has to be made up of all sectors of the community. we're talking about the religious community, faith leaders, very important, but also teachers, police officers, parents, doctors, other community leader whose come together with this focus, intense focus on education and prevention. the program we put together has real accountability. you know, i am a republican.
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i believe in accountability. i want to be sure tax dollars are being used wisely. to receive fund under this program, coalitions are required to be in existence for six months, be sure they're working. it is the only federal drug abuse prevention that requires that, by the way. the coalitions are required to go through a year-long training academy to make sure they have the tools necessary to reduce youth drug use rates. and they have to have data, there have to be performance measures in place. in these coalitions, there's surveys done in schools to see what are the results? and these coalitions are made up of people who run the front lines. they know their community better than anybody else do. that's why -- better than anybody else does. that's why they're more effective than anybody else. use of alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, marijuana, cocaine by our young people has declined. alcohol, 32% decline, tobacco,
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38% decline. other drugs including prescription drugs, 21% decline. so these things work. and i must say of a. seen it firsthand because before -- 23 years ago we started this coalition and we did it with, again, all members of the community. in my case i reached out to the first lady, hope taft, of our state, also to a religious leader in our community, damin lynch, one of the most respected leaders, at that time head of the baptist ministers conference, john pepper. we brought in the business community as well. and we established this coalition not thinking that we were going to end up applying for federal grant money because there was no federal grant program then but that we should focus on how we could ensure we could actually make a difference. we set up a survey that went to
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two-thirds of the schools in our community that asked these questions about drug use so we would know our efforts were working or not working, as the case might be, and how to target our efforts towards parents and teachers. we spent a lost time in the faith community but also with coaches and athletic directors and this program is still going. it is called prevention first. i chaired it for nine years. i was on the board of the coalition, again, before i ran for the senate. and i know it works because i've seen it. we've gotten good results. the coalition tells me that since 2000 alcohol use among young people has gone done 46%, tobacco use 36%, marijuana use 22%. since 2012, there's been a decline by 29% in the use of prescription drugs by our young people. so i think, you know, this program, which by the way is about $90 million last year, as
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someone told me recently has a distinguished military officer, that's about what we charge to keep lights on in part of the pentagon every day. not that i'm not for more and smarter defense spending -- i am -- but $90 million is what we're talking about at the time of the worst drug crisis in the history of our country. so i just think this impact, which i've seen, really works. it means less crime, less drain on our health care system, more productivity in school, more productivity in work. more people can pass the drug test. that benefits all of us. it saves taxpayer dollars. the success we had as this coalition again led me to the legislation, a democratic senator from michigan, sandy levin, introduced legislation, bipartisan in the house. here in the senate, the leaders are still here who were the leaders of this legislation and continue to support it. that's senator chuck grassley and senator patrick leahy, again, a bipartisan group. the bill, the drug-free
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communities act, is again based on these leaked documents from the administration one of the programs they proposed defunding altogether. i am hopeful that this legislation, the drug-free communities act, which has real arely worked, has provided funding has spawned over 2,000 coalitions around the country, 9,000 volunteers all over the country. i'm hopeful we won't be defunding this program. the yes, we have to get treatment to those who need it. but if we're not working on prevention and education, the issue of drug abuse is is going to continue to get worse in my view. i am a former budget director and i understand it's a tough job to look at all the different competing priorities when you're trying to save taxpayer dollars.
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i get this. but i also get that we don't want to take a program like this that's actually working, that has all these accountability measures in place to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent right and to get rid of it at a time when we have this growing crisis in our country. you know, when i first got involved in this issue 23 years ago, i became convinced pretty quickly that one reason the drug issue had raised its ugly head in the 1990's was because we took our eye off the ball. in the 1980's under the leadership of president reagan and first lady nancy reagan and bill bennett, who did an awesome job as drug czar, we made real progress on particularly the issue of cocaine. and i think there was sort of a sense that we'd solved that problem, right, and it was time to focus on other things. and so we took our eye off the ball. and that's why you saw in the 1990's when the drug-free communities act legislation was necessary that there was a big increase in drug use, particul particularly among our young people. so i was always worried that we might do that again, that when
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there was a reduction in drug use we might say, well, that problem is behind us. let's move on to the next one. the problem is never behind it, sadly. it is like the tide. it just keeps coming in. you have to keep our focus on it. i never expected that at a time when we would have a substantial increase in drug use, in crime, in overdoses, in deaths, which is what we've experienced here in this country over the past few years, that we would cut these programs. i just didn't imagine that. we can't take our eye off the ball. we have to make sure we are supporting these programs that work. let me show you a chart that just tells us where we are today. this is the number of drug overdose deaths in our great country from 1999 to 2015, the most recent year for which we have data. look at this line here. this is opioid painkillers. this is fentanyl.
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this is heroin. and you see this incredible increase. sadly, i would tell you, in 2016-2017, it keeps going up. this year we've had more overdose deaths over the first few months than we had in the same period last year. in fact, i'll give you one example. in cleveland, ohio, in the last ten months, we've had more overdose deaths from fentanyl than we had in the previously ten years. so sadly it is not getting better. it is getting worse. drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the united states, surpassing car accidents. this is again a troubling chart, but we need to look at it. we hear a lot about homicides. and gun homicides in particular. we hear about car crashes. here is an example of hiv-aids in 1995, this is the height of the hiv-aids crisis, when all of us acted appropriately. here we're in drug overdoses in 2015, far worse than any of these.
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so between prescription painkillers, heroin, synthetic forms of heroin, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in america. the c.d.c., more americans die from drug overdoses in 2015 again thank died in the aids rep -- than died in the aids epidemic in 1985. more people dying now than were dying at the peak of the crack epidemic. more people died in the last three years than died in the vietnam war. now, those are tough things to patience but the point is -- to compare, but the point is this is not the time for us to be gutting these programs. fortunately, you know, we have these programs in place to help. let's use them to try to encourage more prevention, more education. here's a chart that just shows where heroin and fentanyl is. again, 1999 up to 2015. this is heroin, this is fentanyl.
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look at this spike we've seen over the last few years. that's what we're dealing with. that's the reality. that's what happening in the communities, on the streets. you might ask why we would with aens to cut this back at this point. my understanding is that some are sergeanted that we don't need the program. they've said that this program is duplicative because we have other programs now including great legislation that was passed last year, the 21st century cures act. the author of that legislation just joined us here on the floor, as if in morning business alexander from tennessee. they said the act may be a duplication of that. it is an entirely different program. again, it is not $90 million a year. cures is $95 million a year right now. i was a strong supporter of the curesage of i thank my colleague for working with some of us who have been focused on this issue, as he has, and to get that legislation passed on a bipartisan basis. the 21st century cures act
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provides money for this year and next year, two years. it is a temporary increase in funding to deal with a real crisis. this will help fill the gaps but it does not ensure that one dollar of that money goes towards the evidence-based prevention we talked about today. the cures grants can be used however a state wants. that's appropriate. in ohio i know governor kasich is focused on treatment which is badly needed. noted earlier, eight out of ten people aren't getting the treatment they need. in some communities there is not the treatment available. the drug free communities act is focused on this prevention through education at the community level. funding goes directly to these coalitions. it is not duplication. one is at the community level. one is an open-ended grant at the states and there is no other program that funds it at the community level and has accountability measures in it except
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this one. the accountability measures are important and that p distinguishes it from cures or anything else. we require communities provide matching funds, a one-to-one match. if a dollar of federal tax dollars goes out it's got to be matched by a dollar of nonfederal tax dollars. we put a cap on administrative expenses. wouldn't it be great if we had that in all federal programs. you've got to keep your cost below 8%. that ensures that we maximum the amount of funding that goes to these programs. we included strict accountability measures to ensure the highest level of support involving community crisis. they use taxpayer dollars well. cutting them doesn't make sense. one of the reasons i believe president trump was elected was that he had the courage and the foresight to talk about this issue on a campaign trail. he talked about addiction, whether he was in new hampshire, whether he was in ohio or other states, where we have a higher level
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of heroin, prescription drug, fentanyl abuse, addiction. he spoke with a passion about this and the toll it's exacted on our citizens and the devastation to our communities. i think that was one reason that he was elected. one reason. and he focused on how are we going to stop this epidemic. this proposal apparently put forward by members of his administration runs counter to what he talked about during that campaign. earlier today my original house cosponsor of the drug free communities act, sander levin sent a letter to mick mull have i ni to ask -- mulvaney to ask him not to pursue this course of action. experts like the american academy of pediatrics, community antidrug coalitions of america and other groups sent a letter to the white house expressing support for the work of the national drug
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control policy. i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter it into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: i ask my colleagues to join me in urging the o.m.b. director and the folks in the white house who are making these decisions not to take this course of action, but rather to support our proven community antidrug coalitions and support omdc in doing their work at a time in a growing drug epidemic we've never needed these programs more than right now. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i congratulate the senator from hof not just on his specious, remarks, but on his -- not just on his speeches but on his leadership. he speaks passionately about it publicly and privately to his colleagues just as he was today at our lunches we discussed on health care. he was a leader last year when we passed the
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21st century cures act to try to move these medical miracles that we know are coming through the regulatory investment process more rapidly and into medicine cabinets and doctors' offices. senator portman and senator whitehouse and a group of others in a bipartisan way literally forced into that legislation at least $1 billion more funding for states to deal with opioids after they had passed the cara bill earlier in the year. so the opioids epidemic and the families that suffer from it have no more effective spokesman and advocate than the senator from ohio, and i'm glad i had an opportunity to hear his remarks today. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the time until 4:30 be equally divided in the usual form. further, that all postcloture time on the gottlieb nomination expire at 4:30 today and that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be
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considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. while the senator from ohio is here -- the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. alexander: thank you. while the senator from ohio is here, one more word on opioids. dr. francis collins, the head of the national institutes of health, has testified before the senate that in the next decade, we could have -- we should have a discovery of a nonaddictive pain medicine. now i cannot think of anything that over the long run could deal more with the opioids addiction than to find a substitute for opioids that wasn't addictive. so we discussed that with the president, with the new head of the f.d.a. after today, dr. gottlieb, i hope, is dr. price, with senator portman and with others. hopefully in a bipartisan way we can
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lead forward into accelerating the discovery of a nonaddictive pain medicine and make its contribution to opioids. the senate will vote shortly, 4:30, on the president nomination of scott cleeb -- gottlieb as to the food and drug administration. he is the right person to make the agency forward so america's patients benefit from the remarkable discoveries, one of which i just was discussing, that our nation's researchers are working on. dr. gottlieb has impressive qualifications from every perspective. he was a practicing physician and hospitallist for many years, received his medical degree at mount sinai school of medicine, completed residency there. he held three positions in the department of health and human services, including two at the f.d.a. as deputy commissioner from 2005 to 2007. and before that, in 2003 to 2004, senior advisor
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to commissioner mark mcclellan and as the f.d.a.'s director of medical policy development. dr. gottlieb has studied health policy as a resident fellow at the american enterprise institute. he's a prolific writer and speaker on medical innovations. he's testified in front of congress 18 times on a variety of issues, including the drug approval process, drug costs, drug shortages, importation and health care reform. dr. gottlieb is also a cancer survivor. he knows firsthand how medical treatments affects patients and their families. dr. gottlieb, like others who are nominated by presidents, has through an exhaustive vetting process. the president announced the gottlieb nomination on march 10. we received the nomination march 27. on april 5, dr. gottlieb testified for two and a half hours in our senate help committee. i offered senators the
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opportunity to ask any questions they wished. following his hearing, he answered 189 follow-up questions. if you count all the subquestions, it was 372 questions. on april 27, our committee approved his nomination by a vote of 14-9, readying that nomination by the senate for consideration today. on march 28, more than a month ago, the independent ethics of government concluded, quote, dr. gottlieb is in compliance with applicable laws governing conflicts of interest. quote. let me read from the office of government ethics website about what that agency does. , quote, o.g.e. provides an independent review of the financial disclosure reports for candidates of confirmed senate nominees. it makes sure these individuals comply with
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the requirements for financial disclosure under government for ethics act. continuing, o.g.e. ensures compliance with financial disclosure requirements and assists in the resolution of potential conflicts of interest. it carefully evaluates nominees' financial disclosure reports and works with agency ethics officials to prepare individualized ethics agreement continuing, after confirming with the agency that there are no unresolved conflicts of interest, o.g.e. then transmits the financial disclosure report, ethics agreement and a cover letter directly to the senate. unquote. that all arrived at our committee on march 28. so that should answer any question about whether dr. gottlieb has a conflict of interest, because the independent agency we set up to resolve that question says he has none. or if he has any, he will resolve them according to an agreement with that office.
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i believe dr. gottlieb will help to move the f.d.a. forward so that patients can benefit from the remarkable medical discoveries that researchers are working on. the f.d.a. regulates nearly every single american and regulates about a quarter of all consumer spending in our country over $4 trillion annually. it's responsible for things so diverse as prescription drugs for humans and animals, medical devices, biologics, dietary supplements, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications, food and tobacco products, in addition to drugs and medical devices, the f.d.a. is responsible for protecting our nation's food supply and working to reduce the number of people who get sick from foodborne illnesses. some of my democratic colleagues have expressed concern about dr. gottlieb's prior work with companies that are regulated by the food and drug
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administration. but the fact is it's not so unusual to have an f.d.a. commissioner who is having, who is consulted with the food and drug industry. dr. kaliff, the distinguished former f.d.a. commissioner under president obama, consulted for many companies prior to his confirmation by the senate. that didn't disqualify dr. kaliff. i supported him. so did 89 other senators. he was confirmed 89-4. i think we should recognize the obvious fact, that it's a good idea to have people serving in government with some experience in the types of industries that they're in charge of. the other day we confirmed as secretary of agriculture -- i think it helps that he's a farmer and a veterinarian. we confirmed the secretary of commerce. i think it helps that he has some background in business. some of the same people who are criticizing dr. gottlieb for having a background in working
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with companies that manufacture drugs criticized president trump's secretary of education because she had never been on the payroll of the people that she was about to be in charge of. so you can't have it both ways. i believe dr. gottlieb's background in understanding how drugs are manufactured, how they can be manufactured safely, how they can be moved through the regulatory and investment process more rapidly is vitally important to the opportunity we have in america more than we've ever had before of finding these new medical miracles and putting them in our medicine cabinets and our doctors' offices. dr. gottlieb has broad support from an array of patient, industry, and research organizations. the supporters include three former f.d.a. commissioners. they include president obama's administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid. on friday i received a letter of support for
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dr. gottlieb from ten state attorneys general who in particular praise the nominee as, quote, a leader in the fight against opioid abuse. the subject senator portman spoke on a moment ago. i ask consent to have printed in the record a list of 93 groups who support dr. gottlieb's nomination following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. here are just some brief examples of what some of these groups have had to say about dr. gottlieb. dr. jeff allen, the president and c.e.o. of friends of cancer research, said, quote, through his knowledge and experience, we have no doubt that dr. gottlieb will be the right person to ensure f.d.a. keeps pace with science and innovation without sacrificing the safety and efficacies gold standard established by the f.d.a. unquote. the health care leadership council said, quote, dr. gottlieb's qualifications to lead the f.d.a. are extensive and indisputable.
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dr. gottlieb has consistently demonstrated his vision for accelerated medical innovation in this country and greater patient access to the drugs and devices that extend and improve lives. unquotes. dr. mark mcclellan, f.d.a. commissioner from 2002 to 2004, said he's a very good nomination, adding he's very dedicated to finding better ways to protect and improve the health of the public, all of which are great prerequisites for the f.d.a. commission. andy slammin said dr. gottlieb is, quote, a very good choice. unquote. the f.d.a.'s always been important, mr. president, but there never has been a more important time for this agency. it's responsible for making sure that patients benefit from the promising research driven busying funding -- by
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significant funding given by the medical research in last year's 21st centuries cures act which last year senator mcconnell called the most important legislation of the year. last year this congress increased funding for the national institutes of health by $2 billion. last week congress increased funding for the national institutes for health by another $2 billion. in last year in the 21st century cures act, congress increased funding for another $4.8 billion. for president obama's precision initiative, for the moonshot that was worked on, president obama, vice president biden, all of us want to see these medical miracles move forward and having competent leadership in the f.d.a. is essential to it. i'm very excited about the prospect of having dr. gottlieb and dr. francis collins, who is at the head of the national
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institutes of health, at the head of these two lifesavings agencies which is very important to every single family. the reason the 21st century secures was such an important bill is that it will drive forward this important research. dr. collins talked about some of the discoveries. i mentioned nonaddictive pain medicine as the best way, really, to deal with the opioid abuse ep dem -- opioids epidemic. dr. collins said that we will have hearts from stem cells, a universal flu vaccine. did you know that flu kills 30,000 americans a year? an hiv-aids vaccine, around artificial pancreas for diabetes
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patients. these are the discoveries that are just over the horizon, not to mention medicine that will identify the alzheimer's before there are symptoms and then slow the profession of alzheimer's. think of the grief that would save families and the billions it would save the country. we've invested in that. now we have competent leadership to be approved by the senate today, working with dr. collins and dr. price who can make sure those dreams become a reality even more rapidly. the f.d.a. plays a key role in this. at the committee hearing i asked dr. gottlieb about the subject senator portman and i just talked about. i asked him how the f.d.a. can be forward leaning in accelerating finding new nonaddictive pain medicines, the
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ultimate cure for opioid ep dem ex, a heart -- epidemic, a heartbreaking issue that almost every senator knows about. dr. gottlieb said the opioid epidemic is having staggering human consequences. i think it's the biggest crisis facing the agency. it will face dramatic action by whoever steps into the agency. i think it will require an all-of-the-above approach that will help to develop alternatives to opioid drugs. i think it also includes looking at device alternatives to oil -- opioid drugs and looking at the devices for this. dr. gottlieb will work with us on the authorization of the f.d.a. user agreements which told members of our health committee that are integral to helping our patients and continuing implementation of the
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21st century cures act. before september 30, four different agreements need to be reauthorized. they fund about a quarter of the budget of the food and drug administration. if we do not move quickly to pass these agreements in late july, the f.d.a. will be forced by law to send layoff notices to more than 5,000 employees to notify them that they may lose their jobs in 60 days. a delay would delay the review of drugs and devices submitted after april 1, a month ago. for example, if we don't pass these user-fee reauthorizations on time, an f.d.a. reviewer who gets started reviewing say a cancer drug submitted to the agency in april would be laid off on october 1 before the reviewer is able to finish his or her work. in addition to harming patients and families that rely on
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medical implementation, this would threaten america's global leadership. after reviewing the recommendations from industry and the f.d.a., i believe these are good agreements for patients. the sooner we pass the legislation, the better to give patients, doctors, f.d.a. reviewers, and companies certainty. the -- washington, d.c. at this moment is not a very bipartisan town on many issues, but on this issue it has been -- the issue of user fees to support the food and drug administration. i would compliment senator patty murray and her staff. senator murray is the ranking democrat on the health committee. our satisfies have been working -- our staffs have been working together for 15 months with the house of representatives to try to make sure that we can present to the full senate our f.d.a. user fee
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agreements we've had two bipartisan hearings, tomorrow we have a markup at which we hope those agreements will be presented to the senate floor. the f.d.a. has a vital and important mission. i'm confident that dr. gottlieb is the right person to lead the agency. we're fortunate he's willing to serve. i look forward to the senate approving dr. gottlieb's confirmation this afternoon. i leave the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from the state of washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, before i discuss why dr. gottlieb is the wrong choice to lead the food and drug administration, i want to take a minute about the f.d.a.'s impact on the safety and health for families. our constituents rely on the work of the f.d.a. every single day. they trust the food that they buy from the grocery stores are
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safe, that when they go to the emergency room the drugs and medical devices that are used in their care are held to the highest standard of approval and that f.d.a.'s decisions are based on science, not politics or ideology. in other words, they trust in the f.d.a.'s gold standard of approval. it's critical that the f.d.a. continue to have strong, independent leadership, especially in light of president trump's radical priorities. like many, i am deeply concerned about this administration's efforts to roll back progress we have made to strengthen the f.d.a. and to improve public health. here, let me give two recent examples from last week alone. first, the f.d.a. delayed the implementation of a rule on menu labeling requirements which would have provided families access to critical nutrition information about the food they buy and eat. these requirements have been worked on for years by several
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senators and the obama administration with the support of public health groups and restaurants and the rule was less than one week away from going into effect and on the very same day the f.d.a. announced they would delay enforcement of a rule to ensure greater oversight over tobacco products, including cigars, pipe tobacco, and e-cigarettes. mr. president, now is not the time for the f.d.a. to be taking its foot off the gas when it comes to protecting our children and youth from harmful marketing and flavorer -- flavoring tactics. families have every reason to believe this administration -- and they are making it clear they want leaders prepared to stand up for them -- which brings us back to dr. gottlieb. after scrutinizing his past record and asking where he stands on key policy issues at
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our help committee hearing and reviewing his answers to my questions, it is clear that dr. gottlieb is not that leader. he has not convinced me he can withstand political pressure from this administration or that he will be truly committed to putting our families' health first. for these reasons i will vote no on doctor gottlieb's nomination today. in reviewing dr. gottlieb's professional history and background, i've grown increasingly concerned of whether he can lead the f.d.a. in an unbiased way given his unprecedented industry ties. on numerous occasions dr. gottlieb has invested in or advised a company an used his public platform to benefit that company. i know he has agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving some companies in which he has
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invested or held positions, but dr. gottlieb will still be allowed to weigh in on matters involving other companies in which he was previously invested. his complicated relationships with a venture capital firm an investment bank specifically raise many questions and he will not be recused from matters involving a number of their clients. mr. president, companies that dr. gottlieb has invested in has more than -- have more than 60 drugs in development that could come before the f.d.a. for approval and the companies that dr. gottlieb will be recused from have over 120 drugs in development. the extent of these entanglements is unprecedented and they are particularly troubling given this administration's clear willingness to skirt ethics rules an pressure federal -- and pressure federal employees to jam their agenda through.
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this is not the only problem i have with this nomination p. i'm equally concerned by where dr. gottlieb stands on key policy issues. for one, i do remain unconvinced that dr. gottlieb would ensure independent, science-based decision making at the f.d.a. if he's confirmed. while dr. gottlieb was at the f.d.a. under the bush administration, i was working very hard to ensure that emergency contraception, known as plan b, would be sold over-the-counter to all age groups consistent with expert recommendations, but the bush administration ignored the science and made the decision based on purely ideological plans and allowed it to interfere with women's health care services they needed. thastles a position that -- that was the position that
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dr. gottlieb defended. regrettably my concerns remain unchanged. when i asked dr. gottlieb about this at our hearing, whether or not he would allow this administration to use the f.d.a. to further their political agenda against women's health, dr. gottlieb said he would, quote, not relitigate settled approval decisions on this matter. when i made clear that i was asking about the future about how he would respond to future pressure from this administration to undermined health, dr. gottlieb did not give a clear answer. given the trump's commitment to undermined women's reproductive rights, which we have found clearly in the last 100 days, i find this aspect of dr. gottlieb's history especially troubling. mr. president, i also raised concerns about dr. gottlieb's positions on a number of important issues focused on drugs and medical devices. as i stated at the beginning of
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my remarks, i find the administration's recent decision to delay oversight on tobacco products, especially con certaining, -- concerning, which makes it more important that the f.d.a. commissioner has a clear position. i asked dr. gottlieb specifically as it relates to flavored e-cigarettes that have flooded the markets in recent years. i was disappointed by his response. i think it's clear a line has been crossed when tobacco companies prey on children by coming out e-cigarette flavor like gummy bear and cookies and cream. when i asked dr. gottlieb during the hearing, he wasn't sure where the line is drawn. that is concerning. i asked him about offlabel communications by drug companies or combating the opioid epidemic. so i could go on, mr. president,
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but i want to make one related point here, and that is we still have many questions about where dr. gottlieb stands on pressing policy questions he will have to confront when he's confirmed. as i said during our help committee markup, we submitted many questions to dr. gottlieb, and i was encouraged that dr. gottlieb committed to upholding the gold standard and working with me on a number of priorities like the post market surveillance of medical devices. we were left disappointed with the lack of specificity in his answers. many were vague. some questions were ignored. i came back from a -- from hearing from families in my home state and people are looking at what president trump is doing, they are appalled and they are looking for leaders to step up. whether it's dr. gottlieb's
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unprecedented professional entanglements, his inability to withstand the pressure from the trump administration or whether or not he will truly prioritize patient and consumer safety and the public health over the interest of corporations who stand to gain financially, i continue to doubt whether dr. gottlieb will be able to stand up to president trump. i believe that families and patients rightly expect more. they want independent, science based leadership at the f.d.a. and so i'm going to stand with them and oppose this nomination. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i have seven requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. hoeven: mr. president, now is the time to get back to basics. the federal government does not exist for its own sake. it exists for the people. and the federal regulation serves no useful function for the people and only serves to hold back our nation's prosperity and growth. for so many americans hungry for good-paying jobs now is the time for america to unleash its economic potential by getting government out of the way. it's common sense to eliminate regulations that are duplicative, costly and unworkable. we need to get back to the basics by getting rid of those kinds of regulations, and one of those regulations is the b.l.m. methane rule. the b.l.m. methane rule is one of those midnight
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regulations that the obama administration put out as they were walking out the door. this new regulation from the bureau of land management, or b.l.m., imposes new rules and royalty rates on methane emissions, from oil and gas production on federal and on indian lands. for those wondering why methane emissions aren't already regulated, there's a simple explanation. they are. under the clean air act, the environmental protection agency, the e.p.a., in partnership with individual states, is tasked with regulating air quality, which includes methane emissions. in fact, states like my state of north dakota, states like the presiding officer's state, texas, currently have regulatory systems in place to govern oil and gas emissions. critically the north dakota industrial commission put in place
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requirements that reduce the flaring in our state from 35% down to 10% as a result of their work. this flaring reduction is a big deal. and they have a goal to take it even further. this reduction is a big deal because reduced methane emissions you need to reduce flaring. flaring sounds complicated but it's very simple. when excess gas is produced along with oil and can't be captured, it gets burned off or flared. neither industry nor state officials like flaring because it wastes natural gas. it wastes a natural resource, in which methane obviously is the main component. as most americans know, obviously, natural gas is a valuable commodity used to heat our homes and power our factories. that's why both industry and the states have worked hard to make big improvements. they want to capture that natural gas and that methane.
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that's not just in in order. in north dakota. that's other methane producing states across the country. nationally methane has been on the decline for a number of years. we're already actively working at the state level under a regulatory regime, where states have primacy to spend, authorized by e.p.a. to reduce natural gas findings. with methane emissions being regulated by the states, it is tough to figure out why this new b.l.m. regulation has been passed and what it's accomplishing. this rule has been calculated to cost up to $279 million each year. so the cost in this rule is $279 million a year, a duplicate of a rule. that's in addition to the red tape. b.l.m. estimates that the rule will impose an
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additional82,000 hours of paperwork. an additional 82,000 hours of paperwork. these numbers might sound like the cost of doing business, if you will, but america's job creators know that it's really costing us business, costing us economic growth and costing us jobs. these aren't really numbers. there are livelihoods at stake. what makes the b.l.m. methane rule particularly burdensome is the fact that it's simply unworkable. the rule sets a maximum volume that each well can flare, which will lead to curtailment in shut-in wells, meaning having to shut down the wells. that decreases oil production and reduces royalty payments. so we get less energy, the owners get less revenue and we have less jobs. meanwhile, this rule treats all drilling space and units the same regardless of whether they have minimal
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federal ownership or not. a lot of these oils you're trying to regulate may also be on minerals owned by private individuals. so once again you've got one of these federal one-size-fits-all regulations that just doesn't work in practice. that's why regulating the natural gas, methane emissions has been delegated to the states by the e.p.a. and why it should be occupy to -- up to the states. states are fighting back. wyoming, montana and north dakota filed a rule. this lawsuit should not have to wait until it makes its way through the court system. we can provide regulatory relief right now, and we should do so through the congressional review act, c.r.a., which provides congress with a tool to rid the nation
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of burdensome duplicative regulations like this one. and that's what our schedule is for tomorrow, to take up this c.r.a. so i'm a cosponsor of the c.r.a., and we need to pass it. i want to thank the chairman of the e.p.w. committee, senator barrasso, for his work on this issue and others. the house already passed this c.r.a. so this has already been passed by the house. the president has expressed his support for it. we need to pass it tomorrow. we need to get this done. every week i meet with north dakotans and others working so hard to produce energy for this country. they need and deserve a federal government that he won't stand in their way. this is a basic but fundamental objective and a good place to reduce that regulatory
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burden, to get our economy going, to create more economic growth, more jobs, higher income levels, is by reducing the regulatory burden. and this is a great example. again, it's just about common sense. it's about empowering the states to take a states first approach, a states' primacy approach in terms of this kind of regulation. how we produce energy in texas or north dakota or ohio or pennsylvania or washington state, it's different across the country. you can't have a federal one-size-fits-all rule. that's why it needs to be left up to the states. we have a chance tomorrow to pass this measure, and it is exactly the kind of measure that will help reduce that regulatory burden, help us grow our economy and help us create good jobs. i urge my colleagues to join with us and pass this c.r.a. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
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will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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n.s.a. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, most everybody has seen the news of another disturbance with regard to an airline and an airline terminal. and, indeed, what has happened
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at the fort lauderdale hollywood airport just in the last day has been a disturbance that they had to call in the broward county sheriff's department to put down the disturbance because there were some upset people. i have just gotten off the phone with the c.e.o. of spirit airlines as well as the head of the airline pilots association and basically have told them that they should get this thing fixed and get it fixed quick. there is not so much a labor dispute because they are in negotiations and, i think, are reaching final conclusions, but as a result of some things with the schedule it caused a number
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of flights to be canceled, and unfortunately, canceled right at the last before you could let the people know, the passengers ahead of time, before they ever came to the airport, even much more so of an irritant, they load them on the airplane as if they are ready to go and then tell them they don't have a craw -- a crew of pilots an therefore the flight -- and therefore the flight has to be canceled. those problems will go through today and tomorrow, i am given to believe, by having talked to the head of the pilots union as well as the c.e.o. of the airline, that they will have this straightened out over the next several days and it's -- it's been costly and it's certainly been an irritant and an inconvenience to the
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passengers because 300 flights have been canceled already in the past several days and we're going to see some more canceled in the next couple of days. now, this all culminated in what the american television viewer has seen, a chaotic scene at spirit's front ticket counter at the fort lauderdale airport after the passengers had to get off of the airplane and the canceled flight. as many as -- as many people have seen this video. it's now circulating online. obviously these passengers were very frustrated and it took, unfortunately, the deputies coming in to put down the
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disturbance. having said that, this is just the latest, doesn't that recall something else that has happened in the last few weeks? a passenger being dragged off of an airplane, beatenned and bloodied, and then who has to come and get him but an element of the airport authority of chicago. haven't we also seen on another tv episode, and isn't this telling us something, that passengers are now recording evidence of how passengers are being treated because they have cellphones and cellphones have video cameras and so we saw an airline employee kind of go off
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on passengers in the case of another airline. well, airlines, you better start fixing this because the passengers are not going to tolerate it. on the instant circumstance having talked with the c.e.o. and the head of the union, they are in these discussions. i think they are going to get it fixed, but they need to fix it fast because the traveling public only has so much patience. what happened at fort lauderdale was unacceptable and deeply unfair to the affected passengers, the overwhelmed airline employees, and local law enforcement. it was unfair.
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so let's don't forget also in dealing with the fort lauderdale airport the memories are still fresh of the shooting that took place in january at baggage claim. now, what happened just last night in fort lauderdale is just another example of passengers becoming sick and tired of what they perceive as mistreatment by airlines, be it that circumstance in chicago, the forcible removal of a passenger or be it failing airline i.t. systems and airline fees run amok. and so the airlines better start
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paying attention to this. it appears that airlines are giving the impression that they have forgotten that their customers must come first. so what is it? i know the airlines, the companies don't intend to do this, but it's happening, it's being recorded on video, and it is all the more causing people to express their frustrations. so, mr. president, i have no trouble in putting the airlines on notice if they can't get their act together and start treating the flying public with respect rather than making them think that they are self-loading
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cargo, then this congress is going to be forced to act, and that time is going to come soon as the senate begins work this year on what will be a bipartisan long-term bill to reauthorize the federal aviation administration. that bill is coming later this year. so, mr. president, i just want to say in conclusion we -- we've had a hearing in our commerce committee on this and i thought that would be enough and i -- this senator wouldn't have to speak out anymore, but here again we have another incident. my heart goes out, for example, to some of the c.e.o.'s that they are trying to change a culture of treating with
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disrespect or ignorance of passengers. it's important they change that culture because we will continue to see these kind of circumstances arise if passengers do not feel like that they are getting the proper respect that they deserve. after all, they are customers. they are paying customers of the airlines. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. nelson: i want to withhold that request.
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the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. nelson: i ask consent to rescind the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. the presiding officer: all postcloture time has expired. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 57, the nays are 42. the nomination is confidence. the senator from florida.
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mr. rubio: [inaudible] i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: i rise to speak on the growing tensions in venezuela. there is a growing interest here and in the white house and other places, in the press. this has been going on for a significant period of time. just to put it into context, a lot of times when we talk about these types of thank you militias there is this group that doesn't like the government and they're arguing with each other about the future of the country. what's interesting in venezuela is that both the opposition and the ruling party are in government. the government obviously on the presidential level is controlled by someone who has turned himself into a dictator. he is a successor of hugo chaff he is, the president nicolas maduro, and those who surround him. then there is the national
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assembly, elected by the people of venezuela, the majority party in their legislative branch. what has happened over the last year and a half is the president of venezuela, maduro, the now dictator, has nullified the legislative branch. he basically refuses to recognize the laws they pass. the national aseemably not getting paid, they have no funds for offices. they have no funds for material. they'll pass a law and those laws are ignored. that is the on-going crisis. the second part of it is that under their constitution, the constitution of venezuela, if you collected a certain number of signatures by december of this year, by the end of the year, they had to hold a referendum on the president. they rye fused to -- refused to certify the referendum. the third is they're supposed to have a governor and legislative elections this year in venezuela. maduro has canceled those. and there is no telling --
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doesn't seem like they're going to have a presidential election either. here is the bottom line: the strife in venezuela that's going on today can be solved by an election, by an election of the people of venezuela. by basically following their existing constitution. but that's not what they've atloid have happen. on the contrary, not only are they not allowing elections to happen, but anyone who protests against it has been jailed, press kicked out of the country -- cnn has been kicked out -- and now we're seeing reports of this escalating violence in the street and it is extraordinary. and so what's interesting, though, is that fissions are begin -- is that fissure are beginning to develop. the message that we're sending today is that we stand with you and that we'll never let your cause fall and we'll never accept thesery duck list moves that -- accept these ridiculous moves that maduro is doing. the second message we have is to the people in the venezuela
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government who do not want to be part of what's happening. we see now examples -- for example, of the attorney general louisa ortega, part of the maduro government, has been largely friendly but lately has begun to break away from the government, going as ar far as to criticize the government. you see it in the rank and guard in the national guard in venezuela who is facing down the protesters but on the other side of the protesters are their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, and so -- and their friends and neighbors. and what's really troubling is now these armed groups, irregular groups, these militias that maduro has armed and trained with the help of cuban intelligence, have spun completely out of control. they are going around randomly beating people up, setting up roadblocks, committing all sorts -- committing all sorts of acts of violence. these are checkives, basically
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these armed militias outside of the government, funded, created by maduro who have now gunk to spin out of control even to the point where they themselves i believe are potentially threatened by these groups. -- who in addition to funding themselves through the government have found other ways to fund themselves through illicit means, hewing street crime. -- including street crime. this situation is reaching a breakpoint. it is an important moment to remind the men and women in uniform and the national guard of venezuela that their guard is to protect the people of venezuela, not to oppress them. their job is to uphold the constitution, not to cancel it o to remind them that the men and women on in the protests are that i remember family. now is time for the men and women in the government, many of whom sympathize with maduro, that they do not want to go down with this ship. that they do not want to wind up on the list of people who participated in this crackdown and in this oppression. hope that my colleagues, that
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you will continue to work hard. i am encouraged by the a bipartisan support that we've begun to create on the issue of venezuela. i know my colleague, senator cardin, and i have worked out bipartisan legislation that urges the maduro regime to release all of its political prisoners. it urges my colleagues -- i urge all my colleagues to join me in cosigning this bipartisan legislation. we hope to support the administration's efforts at the o.a.s. to continue to work with regional governments who have taken heed of this issue and have played an extraordinary -- brazil -- an extraordinary leadership role in this. and beyond that i would encourage the administration to continue to look for names to sanction. they have the authority under the law passed not once but twice by this congress that allows them to identify specific individualsing within the venezuela government who are stealing the money of the venezuelan people who have real estate and other personal
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property and cash deposits and bank accounts around the world that they have stolen from the people of have en haven't. the governor -- from the people of venezuela. the governor is relying on all parts of the world to sustain itself. i strongly urge my private investment banks, any large global banks who are thinking about lending money to venezuela, you are abetting this regime and its oppression. you will be singled out and named if you continue to lend them money to fund this. to the russian government, i say you're not going to get your money back. these guys cannot pay you back. the same for the chinese government. you to inlend money to the maduro regime, they will not be able to pay you back. you are going to be embarrassed. the chinese government is going to be embarrassed if they continue to loan money to venezuela. the russians cannot afford to lend money to a government that will not pay them back either. and so i urge they will to look at that very carefully before
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they continue to embarrass themselves by lending out their people's money that they will never get back. this is an important issue. the answer lies one election away. if only the maduro regime would follow its laws and constitution, venezuela would be on a better path. the alternative, the situation will continuing to spiral out of control and we in this chamber, in this country will continue to be on the side of the men and women who seek nothing but democracy and seek nothing but peace and reconciliation and a way forward for this nation, which mass a deep history of democratic order. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 52, robert lighthizer to be the united states trade representative. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the question is on the motion to proceed.
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all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: executive office of the president. robert lighthizer of the florida to be united states trade representative. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of robert lighthizer to be united states trade representative with the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. mcconnell: ask consent that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call with respect to the cloture motion be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it
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adjourn until 9:30 wednesday, may 10. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. finally, that following leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so for the information of all senators, we expect to have a roll call vote on the motion to proceed to h.j. res. 36, the methanec.r.a. resolution of disapproval at approximately 10:00 a.m. tomorrow monk if there is to further business to come before the senate, i ask that it standard adjourned following the remarks of senator sullivan. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. rubio: for the information of the senate the motion to reconsider -- the presiding officer: for the information of the senate the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. on the gottlieb nomination.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: the termination and removal of james comey as the director of the bowr row of -- fbi fbi, raises the question as to whether the russian
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interference in the last presidential campaign -- by the trump campaign will also be investigated by the f.b.i. any attempt to stop or undermined this f.b.i. investigation would raise grave constitutional issues. we await clarification by the white house as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credit inl lead so that we -- credible lead so we know it will have a just outcome. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a erm quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr.sullivan: mr. president, every waco i have been -- every week i have been coming to the floor to recognize someone who has made a difference, someone who has devoted time and energy making my state a better place to live for others. we call these individuals our alaskan of the week. as i've said repeatedly, i believe my state is the most beautiful state in the country. we have visitors. we want to welcome more and more visitors. come on up, i guarantee it will be the trip of a lifetime. when you go to alaska, one town
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that nobody should miss is homer, alaska. it is surrounded by the glissenning waters of the bay, glaciers and snow cap vol tainos -- volcanos. some call it the cosmic camlet by the sea. i held a community meeting and i thank them for the warm welcome i received. i'd also like to thank homer for the warm welcome they gave to the navy destroyer, the u.s.s. hopper, which spent a few days in homer before participating in a joint naval exercise in the gulf of alaska. the 300-member crew was greeted by homer residents.
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the commander of the hopper wrote that in his 24 years of naval service, quote, i've never seen as much patriotism as we enjoyed in homer. thank you, homer, from all of us. alaskans love homer. they see it for the landscape, but also for the people, tight-knit community. they might not always agree with one another, particularly with regard to politics, but they look out for each other. like any community with a heart, they look out for their animals. this week i want to recognize a special person as our alaskan of the week, sherry bess who spent nearly 30 years, three decades, taking care of homer's animals as manager of the homer animal shelter. in 1989 when sherry volunteered at a pet shelter in homer, there was one building, no phone, and only four cages to hold cats.
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it was basically a shack, she said. snow would come in through the dog door, the drain and water bowls would freeze. her feet and hands were cold, it was infested with mice. there was no bathroom. oftentimes when the shelter was too busy or the animals needed extra care, sherry would take them to her home. sherry and a handful of residents cared for 1,200 animals each year and each year she gathered happy and heartbreaking stories about the animals that were abused and the ones she found homes for. one of my teams in alaska took a puppy that had been abandoned, took him home, fed him, and mike flegel on my staff has a dog that is eight years old.
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thanks to sherry stories like that abound throughout homer. for 26 years she's worked night and day seven days a week for the pets in that community. and she recently now stepped down from that job. she's taken care of her own pets, lots of them, her family she calls them, but she'll always know -- be known to so many people in homer for what she's done for their pets and their animals. over the years those animals that came to me, she said, unwanted and sad and depressed and then you help them, you love them. they go to a home and they're loved and that's the most rewarding thing i've done. mr. president, sherry said over the years she's noticed that the residents of homer and throughout the country have been kinder to their pets. part of that is a result of what sherry and others like her across the country do to educate the public an on taking care of animals through vaccinations and
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neutering. and some of it is more and more that people -- because of people like sherry are considering pets as their family. so i want to thank sherry as our alaskan of the week for all that she's done and for that she's done for the pets in our great state. great job. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m.
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from politico saying president trump has expired fbi director and a statement from the white house is saying the fbi is one of our nation's most cherished and respected institutions. today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement. a search for mr. colby's replacement will begin immediately. eleanor, washington correspondent for the daily deet discusses progressive resistance against the trump presidency. then the heritage foundation on gop healthcare and tax reform policies. washington post pentagon correspondent discusses the potential increase of us troops in afghanistan. the sure to watch c-span's washington journal. light at seven eastern on wednesday morning. join the discussion back.
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>> sunday night on "after words" physician and journalist elizabeth rosenthal examines the business side of healthcare. in her book and american sickness: how healthcare became big business. how you can take it back. doctor rosenthal is interviewed by doctor david blumenthal. >> i was wondering if your book gave you any thoughts about whether healthcare is a free market. whether we can solve our problems in healthcare to free market forces. >> i think what we've seen is the answer is probably not. the beginning is a book that i put a tongue and cheek list of the economic rules of the destruction in dysfunctional healthcare market where if you think of healthcare as a purely business proposition, the market
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will fall, you know, you get to crazy places like a lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. now, i am not saying for a second that anyone really think that but that is where market forces but you, right now. what "after words" sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern. >> earlier today florida senator marco rubio spoke about us policies toward central america and mexico. he talked about the importance of having an ongoing relationship and dialogue with the countries on trade, drug trafficking, and migration flows this was hosted by the council of america's this is 35 minutes


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